Coyotes Defeat Dinamo Riga 3 - 1 in Final Preseason Game

In the last tune up prior to the Start of the actual NHL season the Phoenix Coyotes defeated Dinamo Riga 3 -1. The Coyotes looked good for most of the game though the first period was certainly a bit slow. Ilya Bryzgalov played for the first 30 minutes and was solid as he didn't let in any goals. On the Other end Mikael Tellqvist did well against his former team only allowing one goal late in the first period by Taylor Pyatt. Lee Stempniak got the assist as he shot it right off of Tellqvist's pads and due to a poor angle on the block it went right to Pyatt who had a wide open net in front of him.

The game would stay 1-0 until the goalie change in the middle of the second period. Jason LaBarbera replaced Bryz and Chris Holt came in for Telly. Shortly there after LaBarbera gave up the only Coyotes goal on a good ply by Dinamo's forward Mark Hartigan. LaBarbera made the initial save, but Hartigan was able to lift the puck over Jason even though he was in traffic to tie things up. 

The Coyotes seemed to get better as the game went on however even if the Power Play wasn't working very well for them. For some reason we still can't seem to get setup correctly in our own zone to keep possession. Hopefully Ray Whitney can help out in that department. In any event the Coyotes would go back on top on a goal by Petr Prucha. With Whitney out of the lineup the Czech line was back together and worked it's magic. Martin Hanzal carried it in and passed to Radim Vrbata who then made another nifty pass to Prucha who buried it. Lee Stempniak would put the Coyotes up 3-1 later in the period when he snagged the puck in the slot and just whipped it past Holt. That was the only time, though given many chances, that the Coyotes cashed in with the man advantage as well. 

The Good:

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - He looked solid again and while he may not have gotten on the score sheet he was pushing himself the whole game. He came really close to scoring a goal just through pure will but got deflected. He's young and makes some mistakes, but he's working really hard and it shows.

Czechs - They showed up in front of their countrymen today. Prucha was all over, Hanzal was hitting had and Vrbata was making great passes. Whitney may be on that line for opening day, but with how those guys play together we'll see it more than a few times throughout the season.

Bryz - He looked solid again making quality saves when they were required and not letting in a single goal. There may be a bug here or there to work out, but he looks like he's ready to play.

Wolski's Stick Handling - He was dangling all over the place making it look easy. So long as he wasn't taking notes on passing to nowhere from Robert Lang last season that'll be good.

The Bad:

The power(less) play - Everyone knows it's a concern and it doesn't turn from the 28th PP unit in the league to a top flight one over night, but they still looked soft and against a middling, but agressive Dinamo team there were more than a few times they couldn't even get in the zone to start getting set. When they did the puck got cleared pretty quickly most of the time. It was a weakness last year an looks to continue to be at least to start the season. Though I won't complain if they happen to go 8 for 8 against Boston over the next 2 games or some nonsense.

Transition game: The passes just seemed to be off through the neutral zone for both teams leading to rushes. I'll allow some margin for being in an odd arena and it being the preseason, but we need to do better. 

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